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News Obituaries

The Rev. Harry L. Hoffman III, Episcopal rector

The Rev. Harry L. Hoffman III, a retired Episcopal rector who had been associated with churches in Maryland, Virginia and Wyoming, and was an ardent conservationist and outdoorsman, died Aug. 1 of complications from Parkinson's disease at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville. He was 87.

"Harry was much loved by a great number of people," said the Rt. Rev. John L. Raab, retired bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, who is currently serving as bishop in residence at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

"He was one of the most authentic and genuine pastors I've ever known. He had a wonderful pastoral presence," said Bishop Raab.

"Harry was a wonderful and understanding presence when people were going through a crisis, a death or transitioning. He was a genuinely loving person and not in the hail-fellow-well-met sense," he said. "He could share with others his love and energy."

"Harry was a very compelling and fine person who represented the very best in his priestly ministry. He was a wonderful human being," said former Maryland Bishop Robert Ihloff. "He was always cheerful and had a readiness to be of help and persevered in the right way."

The son of Harry Lee Hoffman Jr., a Baltimore advertising executive and noted conservationist, and Charlotte Feast Hoffman, an educator who was also a conservationist, Harry Lee Hoffman III was born in Baltimore and spent his early years on Gittings Avenue.

He moved with his parents to Ivy Hill Forest, their 117-acre woodland estate near Cockeysville, which they planted with hundreds of rhododendrons, azaleas and wildflowers. They later donated the property, which became Baltimore County's Oregon Ridge Park.

After graduating from Friends School, Father Hoffman earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 from the Johns Hopkins University.

He was working as a junior account executive at H. Lee Hoffman Advertising, his father's firm, when he decided to enter seminary and study for the Episcopal priesthood.

In 1954, he entered Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, from which he graduated with a master's degree in divinity in 1957.

He was ordained a deacon in 1957 by the Rt. Rev. Noble C. Powell, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland, and the next year was ordained an Episcopal priest by Bishop Harry Lee Doll.

Father Hoffman began his pastoral career as vicar at the old St. John's Episcopal Church in Relay, and was later pastor of churches in Powell, Wyo., and Lovell, Wyo., before being appointed assistant rector in 1963 at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va.

He served as rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Purcellville, Va., from 1970 to 1986, when he was named assistant rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City. He remained there until 1988, when he retired.

During his years in Purcellville, he was active in the Lions Club and volunteered with the fire and rescue squad.

"He was an active member of St. John's longer than he had been assistant rector," said Bishop Raab. "Everyone loved his presence, his deep faith, and concern for people. He was full of joy, always smiled and was very much beloved."

"He had real integrity and did not settle for the second best. Everything was to be done in the correct fashion," said Bishop Ihloff. "He had strong opinions, but they were good opinions."

In the late 1970s, he established a close relationship with Dr. Yona Okoth, who later became the Anglican archbishop of Uganda. In 1977, Dr. Okoth, his wife and children fled Uganda during the dictatorship of Idi Amin.

"In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, he made several trips to Uganda to minister to the Ugandan people," said a daughter, Alice Hoffman Middleton of Mechanicsville, Va.

The former Catonsville resident moved to Fairhaven in 2007. He was an inveterate amateur photographer and a talented musician who sang with many church choirs and played guitar.

"He was an early computer whiz and purchased his first computer in the mid-1970s," his daughter said.

Father Hoffman was a talented and creative writer who contributed to and served on the editorial board of Inkling, the Fairhaven retirement community's literary magazine. He also served as a member of Fairhaven's Residents' Board.

He had inherited his father's love of nature and the outdoors and particularly enjoyed visiting the Lake Champlain and Adirondack region of New York state.

He had a "love-hate relationship with golf," his daughter said, and had amassed a notable collection of stamps. He was also an avid Orioles fan.

"He was a man who had many interests. He really was a Renaissance man," said Bishop Raab, who added, "I have always had great affection for Harry."

"Looking back over my life, I see that it was blessed by God and reasonably successful," Father Hoffman wrote in a biographical sketch.

"I was never famous and never did great things, but I did the best I could to be of help to people, especially in their time of crisis and need," he wrote. "I have tried to practice what I preached, particularly about our need to give of our time, talent and treasure for charitable causes."

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Fairhaven, 3200 Third Ave., Sykesville.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Mary Louisa Carter Primrose; a son, William Ellicott Hoffman of Richmond, Va.; another daughter, Charlotte Hoffman Van Duser of Round Hill, Va.; a sister, Martha Hoffman Stegner of Ruxton; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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